Majid Al Futtaim's mall portfolio, which includes Mall of the Emirates (pictured here), together accounted for 200 million visitors in 2019. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The Majid Al Futtaim group recorded Dh35.2 billion in 2019 revenues, up 1 per cent from a year before.

Its properties’ division, which houses all the malls and hotels in the portfolio, pulled in EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) of Dh3 billion, unchanged from 2018. But revenues were down 1 per cent to Dh4.6 billion. “This was mainly due to the impact of challenging market conditions on revenue per available room (RevPAR) in the hotels business, despite outperforming the market in Dubai and a 3 per cent increase in room occupancy across the portfolio,” the company said in a statement.

And on the mall side, helped by three new shopping destinations and “revitalisation of existing assets”, visitor figures increased by 4 per cent year-on-year to 200 million. Total occupancy at the group malls were at 93 per cent.

Overcoming consumer apathy

The retail division provided the bulk of the revenues, at Dh28.1 billion, which is a 1 per cent increase on 2018. This has come about “despite a reduction in discretionary spend and basket size due to weaker consumer sentiment,” a statement added.

The retail division was boosted by a “margin uplift”. The group closed last year with the Carrefour business seeing the addition of 12 hypermarkets and 30 supermarkets, with a “significant focus on Egypt. The total number of stores now exceeds 300.

After Uganda, Carrefour will soon have its first store in Uzbekistan, with plans for new markets in Central Asia and Africa.

“In 2019, we advanced our diversification efforts by entering new countries and expanding our footprint in priority markets, while maintaining strong financial discipline across our portfolio,” said Alain Bejjani, CEO of Majid Al Futtaim - Holding. “We reached more customers in new and existing markets, both online and offline, and this has been key to our continued success.”

All eyes on cinema

The other big plus comes via VOX Cinemas, and its continued expansion in Saudi Arabia with 78 new screens added. “With online retail gaining increased traction in core markets, both Carrefour and VOX Cinemas doubled the value of their digital sales compared to 2018,” the company added in a statement.

More VOX cinema screens will be a priority for Majid Al Futtaim group. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

VOX plans to open 600 screens in Saudi Arabia by 2023. Specific to this year, the company plans to add 87 screens, including in cities such as Tabouk, Hail and Jubail for the first time.